Hats off for Alida!

Hats off for Alida

Whenever I enter Alida’s hat store I feel like Alice in Wonderland. Her salon reminds me of a little magic garden – the hats resemble a variety of flowers. Mundane fedoras, playful fascinators and pert pillbox hats sit there in anticipation. Feather adorned hairbands flutter here and there like cute little birds.

In the heart of this whimsical wonderland stands Alida – always with an enchanting smile. She creates fabulous hats with love. Her collection is as multifaceted as her clientele. Cosmopolitan globetrotters, sweet elderly ladies, cool young city girls – they all love Alida’s shop.

I know Alida for quite a while now. Her fairylike nature paired with her admirable intelligence and strength have always impressed me. When I decided to write about people with „that extra little something“ I incidentally think of her.

Before I can start our interview Alida tries to tidy the delightful hat chaos which I believe is the very charm of this studio. Every spot in this place reflects her creative craft: lose ribbons, pins, and wooden heads mirror the elaborate work that’s been put into the hats.

„Whenever I enter your Salon it always fascinates me once more. How does it affect your other clients/visitors?“
„Quiet different. I often hear „Alida“ could be found in Marais as well as in London. They say, the shop is exceptionally different. I love having a place that inspires people, that reminds them of many a self found favorite spots still sticking to their memories.To me it’s quiet essential to offer a shop that could be relocated to any other city on the spot – to me that is cosmopolitan transparency which let’s me breath.“

„Why did you choose the profession of a hat maker?“ I ask her while she’s getting ready for our shoot in front of a mirror: „I’ve always strived for the unconventional and felt the need to do something unusual. I already started sewing and crafting in my childhood. Besides I always wanted to create something that emphasizes people’s personality. A hat is especially great in doing so. My grandpa used to say: „It’s the hat that makes a man a real gentleman“’.

She seats herself on the green retro-sofa next to the shop window and adds almost whispering: „And a hat can do magic. It can be used as a practical accessory to protect from the cold or the sun, but sometimes it works as a shield against glances when we want to hide. Or it gives you that vogue-ish spotlighting moment. It’s a tool of communication giving utterance to the inner life. It’s the hat that gives a Clown the Comical, a Pirate the Bold, a Lady her Chic, an Individual its Personality.“

Listening to Alida’s pictorial explanation I suddenly feel like choosing a hat for myself. I try on a few designs but soon realize I’m not very good at picking the right ones. Then Alida styles me with a copper colored hat piece I would have neither discovered nor chosen for myself. Against expectation it is perfect for me and I fall in love with it at first fit. She has this unbelievable talent to instantly find the congenial hat for every person.

I ask her how she makes choices for people she doesn’t know well or even never met yet.
„It totally depends on the current mood of the person. I try to sense it. It is an interplay of mood, occasion and wishful thinking. I listen closely and let myself inspire by people’s personality.”

„You invest so much passion and love in your creations. Don’t you have difficulties to hand off your „darlings“?“
„In the beginning I did. Now I part with them easily. If the right person is decided for the right hat it makes me extremely happy.“
And there it is again, her special beaming smile.

When I ask her what other parts of her job make her happy she doesn’t hesitate long:
„When I’m in a flow. I believe that this is every artists highlight. To have the time and muse to bring ideas to life. The undisturbed process of creative action simply makes me happy.“

Speaking of happiness, since June last year Alida is mum to an adorable little boy. Her cute son grows up in this magical place where Alida works and lovingly takes care of him. She works non-stop, is self-employed, fulfills her part as life partner and full-time mum. I wonder how she manages to handle all her tasks so well.
„Sometimes it can be quiet exhausting, especially when the nights are short and I don’t get enough sleep. But having a child awards me with new, yet undiscovered powers. Whatever happens, I learned to use this new source of strength, get up and simply carry on.“

What I’m taking with me from this beautiful reunion is a great dose of inspiration and the happiness about knowing a special person like her.

Hats off, Alida, and thank you so much for the wonderful turban, that you specially made for me with your magic hands. It already grew on my heart!

Location: Alida Modisterie & Hutdesign

Photos by: Miriam Moelter/Moé Photodesign